Apple could snap up virtual reality company NextVR for estimated $100m

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NextVR
Acquisition would help bolster Apple's virtual reality efforts.
Photo: NextVR

Apple could be in the process of acquiring California-based virtual reality company NextVR, according to a report published over the weekend.

The rumored acquisition, supposedly for an amount in the region of $100 million, is reportedly quite far along. Although it hasn’t closed yet, employees are already being told about possibly relocating from San Diego to one of Apple’s offices.

9to5Mac broke the story in a report published Saturday. The report says that “a shell company formed this year that’s believed to be Apple is hiring most of the engineers who develop the [NextVR] product.”

NextVR has a number of technology patents in its portfolio. It has worked extensively with leading sports and live entertainment companies. Currently, it provides VR experiences for watching live events using VR headsets made by PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Microsoft and Lenovo.

According to Saturday’s report, NextVR ran into problems in early 2019. It was unable to secure a Series C round of funding and laid off 40% of employees.

Apple’s virtual reality and augmented reality efforts

In recent years, Apple has been outspoken about its enthusiasm around augmented reality (AR). However, virtual reality (VR) is something Apple has also shown a long-term interest in. In augmented reality, digital elements are superimposed onto a real-world environment, such as Snapchat lenses. In virtual reality, the entire world is created virtually.

As far back as November 2006, Apple filed a patent for an HMD (head-mounted display) system, which created images using a remote laser light engine. It expanded on this idea with a more comprehensive 2008 patent for a pair of Apple goggles. These would supposedly let users view media and play games on a bigger screen than their iPhone or iPad.

The company is currently developing its own head-up display. In 2019, Apple purchased iKinema, a company which makes virtual reality and motion capture.software. Apple has also hired various VR experts.